Intrawest breaks ground at Squaw | SierraSun.com
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Intrawest breaks ground at Squaw

SHANNON DARLING, Sun News Service

On Friday, gold shovels and groundbreaking festivities marked the beginning of what will be five years of construction at the base of Squaw Valley USA.

The result will be the Village at Squaw, a 13-acre, multi-story, ski-in, ski-out village.

“Good things come to those that wait,” said Tom Jacobson, vice president of the resort development group.

With chain link fences, dirt mounds and tractors behind her, Nancy Wendt, president of Squaw Valley ski corporation, spoke to a crowd about her dream for Squaw.

“It’s a jubilant day for Squaw,” Wendt said, who added the dream for this village has been alive since the late ’80s.

The ceremony marked the Village’s first building phase, there will be a total of four phases in the building project. The finished village will have close to 600 living quarters and 80 businesses.

Alex Cushing, founder of Squaw, spoke about the new project and his hopes for what it will accomplish.

“The first thing we want to think about is the day skiers. We can’t loose them,” Cushing said. “The day skier has been or backbone for over 50 years.”

The Village will remain day-skier friendly and provide enough parking for everyone, assures Jacobson about the parking plans, which will include parking spaces under the condos themselves and an above-ground structure that will have approximately 400 parking spaces.

“This won’t have any affect on ticket prices,” said Cushing to comfort those that may think the Village will cause lift ticket prices to go up.

To accommodate skiers during this first phase of construction, Squaw has already began renovations on the Opera House located at the east end of Squaw’s parking lot.

“We’re trying to make the process of getting up the mountain and around the construction easier,” said Katja Dahl, media/public relations director for Squaw Valley USA.

To get up the mountain, Squaw plans on making the two-person lift Papoose into a six-passenger detachable lift.

Plans are also under way to widen the Easy Street run to accommodate beginners, said Dahl.

Squaw is also making plans to better accommodate skiers during the construction process. They plan to renovate the Opera House and make it a a new skier services center.

The center will include ski and snowboard rentals, retail stores, ski school and ticket windows as well as newly remodeled bathrooms, said Dahl.

To make room for the new facilities, the Opera House Cinema will be removed and renovated. But for those that worry about not getting a new movie theater, Dahl assures that there is already talk of building a new one.

The theater and the administrative offices will move and make room for all of the additional amenities. The general store and the Red Dog Cafe will remain open, Dahl said.

Construction on the new skier services center is scheduled to begin this week, said Dahl.

The first phase of the Village is scheduled to be complete in December of 2001.

Condo owners have already shown interest when the 139 condos in the first phase of the project sold out in six hours this for a record-breaking $73 million during an event held by Intrawest in San Francisco.

Even though all the residential units were sold before construction began on the first phase, the 16 business spaces have yet to be filled.

The lower level of the Village will consist of 78 business.

“We’re actually building a community,” said Marie Cechvala, director of commercial development.

The commercial section of the village will include different section, appealing to different people. One section will be dubbed “fun street” because it will offer things for children such as toy stores and play areas, said Cechvala.

“This will be a real play area for children,” she said.

Other areas will include extreme areas, which will include sport stores and sport clothing stores, and intimate corners which may include coffee shops, bookstores and possibly art dealers, Cechvala said.

“We’re really making sure we mix it properly,” she said.

Currently Cechvala is targeting different business to make sure the mix is correct. But she assures locals that the business mix is usually 80 percent local businesses and 20 percent national businesses.


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